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ABC Board adds two members

WINTON – The Hertford County ABC Board has two new members and a new directive from the county commissioners.

At an earlier meeting, the commissioners had agreed to increase the ABC Board’s membership from three to five. Following that approval, the commissioners began to accept applications for the two new positions.

Six applications were received – Phil A. Hogue of Ahoskie, Lonnie T. Simmons of Murfreesboro, Jeri Pierce of Winton, Trey Byrum of Ahoskie, Karen Rowe of Winton and Tony Hammond of Ahoskie.

During discussion at their Feb. 6 meeting it was noted by the commissioners that Pierce and Hammond currently serve on two county boards. County policy states that a citizen may serve on no more than three boards, as appointed by the commissioners.

“One of the things we see a lot is the same people serving on different county boards,” said Commission Chairman Curtis Freeman. “We have others, viable county citizens that would like to serve and honestly do not receive a chance because of the number of individuals we have serving on multiple boards. I do appreciate the ones that serve on these various boards; without them we probably wouldn’t have people sitting on these boards, but if we have viable citizens that want to serve and they’re qualified then we need to look at them instead of the same old, same old.”

Commissioner Howard Hunter III noted the strength that Simmons could bring to the ABC Board. Simmons retired last year after 33 years of working within the county’s system of ABC stores.

Commissioner Johnnie Ray Farmer questioned if Simmons’ appointment would present a conflict of interest due to his close association over the years with the local ABC Board.

“There’s nothing ethically or legally wrong with that,” Freeman said. “I will say that Mr. Simmons expressed his desire a while back to have a chance to be part of the ABC Board.”

The floor was then open for nominations – Rowe (by Commissioner Bill Mitchell); Simmons (by Freeman); Byrum (by Farmer); and Hammond and Pierce (by Commissioner Ronald Gatling).

Voting was performed in order of nomination. Rowe was confirmed by a 5-0 vote. Simmons was appointed by a 4-1 vote, with Farmer in opposition. Their appointments are effective immediately.

Following the vote, Farmer put a motion on the floor that due to the expansion of the ABC Board from three to five members, their stipend per meeting will be reduced to $150. Those board members currently receive $200 per meeting; the chairman receiving an additional $25.

“The $150 is in accordance with the state statute,” Farmer said. “As you may recall last year we had to send a letter of exception to Raleigh because we were paying more than what the (state) legislature directed. If we reduce it to $150 we’ll be back in line with the state, plus it will save us a little bit of money in that we’ve increased the size of the board.”

Hunter offered a second to the motion.

“I believe our ABC Board is in the top four in the state for what they receive in pay per meeting,” Hunter noted.

The motion passed by a 3-2 vote with Farmer, Hunter and Freeman in favor and Mitchell and Gatling opposing.

“Another thing we need to look at with that board is the chairman spot, it needs to be rotated,” Freeman said. “We have the authority to appoint the chairperson. Every other board under our auspice rotates their chairman every year. We can come back at our next meeting and discuss this further.”

In addition to the two new appointees, the Hertford County ABC Board is comprised of Hazel Pierce (chairperson), Lillie O. White and Winfred Hardy.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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